Australian cricketer clarifies 'boyfriend' social media post

MELBOURNE, Australia — Australian cricketer James Faulkner has clarified a vague social media post about his dinner with a "boyfriend" that led to reports that the World Cup star had come out as gay.

Faulkner made a controversial post on Instagram late Monday and described it on Twitter as having a birthday dinner with a boyfriend — his long-time business partner Rob Jubb — and his mother. The post was followed by three love hearts and a hashtag that implied they'd been together for five years.

The initial message sparked debate over its status as genuine or a hoax. Faulkner, who was voted player of the match in Australia's 2015 World Cup final win over New Zealand, clarified about 14 hours later that there'd been a misunderstanding. He said he wasn't gay, but that it was "fantastic to see the support from and for the LGBT community."

Critics said the 29-year-old Faulkner's message, which attracted likes from other cricketers and messages of support and encouragement from supporters, was contemptuous of the struggle experienced by some homosexuals and could prevent gay athletes from deciding to go public.

Cricket Australia released a statement early Tuesday apologizing for any "intended offense," saying it didn't consider Faulkner's social media post to be a joke, more a reflection on a long friendship.

"His comment was made as a genuine reflection of his relationship with his business partner, best friend and house mate of five years," the Cricket Australia statement said. "He was not contacted for clarification before some outlets reported his Instagram post as an announcement of a homosexual relationship."

Cricket Australia said the sport's national administration and Faulkner were supportive of the LGBTI community and recognized that "coming out can be an incredibly emotional time."

"The post was not in any way meant to make light of this and, though the support from the community was overwhelming and positive, Cricket Australia apologizes for any unintended offense."

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